Four at Four

  1. The Times-Picayune reports Gustav forecast still aimed at central Louisiana coast. “This morning’s first National Hurricane Center forecast still has Tropical Storm Gustav arriving at the Louisiana coast just south of Morgan City and Houma at 1 a.m. Tuesday as a major Category 3 hurricane with top winds of 115 mph.”

    As noted in yesterday’s Four at Four, the LA Times reports the Storm could postpone Republican convention. “Party officials are discussing the possibility of postponing convention proceedings if the threat to New Orleans and other Gulf Coast areas grows. If there is serious damage in the Gulf Coast, images of Republicans partying in Minneapolis-St. Paul could be an embarrassing reminder of the Bush administration’s delayed response to Hurricane Katrina three years ago… A damaging hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico also could highlight the risk of offshore drilling in the area at a time when McCain is championing the practice.”

    And just as a reminder about Republicans, here’s a story from the AP from May: Alaska will sue over polar bear listing, Palin says. “[Palin] and other Alaska elected officials fear a listing will cripple oil and gas development in prime polar bear habitat off the state’s northern and northwestern coasts… Climate models that predict continued loss of sea ice, the main habitat of polar bears, during summers are unreliable, Palin said.” Palin will be the excuse John McCain needs to flip-flop his support to be pro-drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Four at Four continues with walruses and the shrinking Arctic sea ice, long overdue “dirty war” justice in Argentina, and the lost ‘cities’ of the Amazon.

  1. The Washington Post reports the Arctic Sea-ice melt imperils walruses and the economy based on them. “Though walruses are federally protected, Alaska Natives have subsistence rights to hunt them and rely on the meat, skin, intestines and tusks — for food, clothing and boat coverings, and to carve the ivory jewelry and souvenirs that are a signficant source of income.”

    The ice has been melting more quickly, “thinning the walrus herds and forcing native hunters to travel greater distances to track their prey. As the ice has melted, the window of time in which the hunters can pursue the walrus is much shorter — about three weeks, compared with two months in better years.”

    As the climate changes, it will continue to get worse for both Inupiaq Eskimos and the walrus. “Walrus need to rest on sea ice no more than 400 feet above the ocean floor so they can dive down to eat shellfish and plants. But sea ice is retreating so far north that the waters are too deep for walrus to feed. This forces them to squeeze onto land, and last summer about 4,000 young walruses were trampled to death by males in the crowded conditions.”

  2. Here’s something to keep in the back of your mind… The LA Times reports Argentine ex-generals guilty of ‘dirty war’ death. Former Gen. Antonio Domingo Bussi, 82, and former Gen. Luciano Benjamin Menendez, 81, were sentenced to life in prison for murder charges during Argentina’s “dirty war” against internal dissent.

    The pair were convicted of murder and related charges in connection with the disappearance of provincial Sen. Guillermo Vargas Aignasse. He vanished after being arrested March 24, 1976, the day of Argentina’s last military coup.

    The military takeover kicked off Argentina’s 1976-83 dirty war against suspected leftists, which resulted in as many as 30,000 killings, according to human rights activists. Many bodies have never been found…

    Like other former military leaders, Bussi and his boss evaded prosecution for years because of amnesties and pardons that shielded alleged rights abusers. But Argentina has since revoked those legal protections, leading to the trials of hundreds of dirty war-era security officials…

    Ex-commanders have insisted that Argentina was at war against communism. Human rights advocates say it was less a war than a lawless regime’s reliance on torture and extrajudicial killings to eliminate dissent.

    At least in Argentina, it may have been slow, but justice has finally prevailed. Maybe in another 30 years, justice will prevail in the United States of America?

  3. This week’s Science reports news of the discovery of Pre-Columbian urbanism in the Amazon River basin. Researchers from Florida and Brazil “describe settlement and land-use patterns of complex societies on the eve of European contact (after 1492) in the Upper Xingu region of the Brazilian Amazon.”

    BBC News weighs in with ‘Lost towns’ have been discovered in the Amazon. “Extensive human activity” has been found. “Evidence grid-like pattern of settlements connected by road networks and arranged around large central plazas. There are signs of farming, wetland management, and possibly fish farms.”

    The Telegraph adds the Amazon may not be as “pristine” as one thought. The “Amazon rainforest was covered by a vast sprawl of interconnected villages between 1,500 and 500 years ago.” The villages supported communites of 1,000 people or more and the “garden cities radiated out over a diameter of 150 miles, covering an area of 18,000 square miles” for a total of about 50,000 people.


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  1. Just like John McCain…

    • Robyn on August 29, 2008 at 22:49

    Yes, I do have some photos of walruses (from the Old Norse hrossvalr: horse-whale) coming up this weekend.  it was going to be a surprise, but I’m not good at keeping secrets.

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